New Kansas Governor Names Veteran Lawmaker Budget Director
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Gov. Jeff Colyer has named a veteran state legislator with a key role in drafting education funding legislation as his budget director. The new Republican governor on Friday gave one of the most visible positions in the administration to GOP state Representative Larry Campbell of Olathe. Campbell said he plans to start Monday. Colyer named departing Budget Director Shawn Sullivan to a new position of chief operating officer to handle issues involving multiple agencies. Campbell's appointment appears to be an effort to reach out to the Legislature. Campbell is vice chairman of the House Appropriations Committee and is chairman of a special House committee on education funding. Campbell has served 13 years in the House. He's also a member of the Olathe City Council and a former Olathe mayor.
Kansas Governor to Unveil Harassment, Transparency Measures
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — New Kansas Governor Jeff Colyer says he'll outline measures next week to combat sexual harassment and improve transparency in state government. Colyer said during a news conference Thursday that he wants a change in tone at the Statehouse. He took office Wednesday after fellow Republican and former Gov. Sam Brownback resigned to become U.S. ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom. Colyer had been lieutenant governor. Top lawmakers plan to revise the Legislature's policy on sexual harassment, which has been in place since 1994. They've also had sexual harassment training sessions for legislators, staff and interns. Colyer said he plans to issue an executive order on harassment but did not provide further details. Legislators also are pursuing open-government measures. Colyer said he will work with them and have measures of his own.
Ex-GOP State Representative Ed O'Malley Drops Out of Governor's Race
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Former Republican state Rep. Ed O'Malley says he is dropping out of the race for Kansas governor. O'Malley announced Thursday that he is reluctantly leaving the race because his campaign hasn't been able to raise enough funds to remain competitive. He is the first candidate in a crowded GOP field to end his campaign. O'Malley, CEO of the Kansas Leadership Center in Wichita, said in a statement that he hopes the state finds elected officials who are willing to listen to differing perspectives and find new ways forward. O'Malley's departure leaves several GOP candidates, including Gov. Jeff Colyer, Secretary of State Kris Kobach, Insurance Commissioner Ken Selzer, former Sen. Jim Barnett, Wichita businessman Wink Hartman, former Rep. Mark Hutton and three high school students.
Kansas House Advances Bill Lowering Age for Concealed Weapons to 18
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas House advanced a bill that will allow people as young as 18 to carry concealed weapons. Currently only those 21 and older can carry concealed weapons. The new law would require those between 18 and 21 to get a gun permit, which is not required after age 21. The bill advanced Thursday by a vote of 85-35 and could come to a final vote Friday. The Kansas City Star reports lawmakers rejected a proposal to allow the state's six public universities to prohibit concealed weapons. However, those taking guns onto campuses would need to get permits. Public universities have been required to allow guns on campus since last year. The legislation also requires Kansas to recognize the concealed carry permits of other states.
Kansas Rejects Repeal of Concealed Carry on College Campuses
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas lawmakers have rejected an effort to repeal a law that allows people to carry concealed firearms in most facilities at public colleges and universities in the state. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that the Kansas House voted 53-69 against Democratic Representative Barbara Ballard's repeal amendment Thursday. The House did vote to require students, faculty and staff carrying a concealed firearm on campus to receive gun safety training. Lawmakers also voted to allow 18-year-olds to carry concealed weapons. The previous age limit was 21. Ballard says the law is making it difficult for higher education institutions in the state to attract new students to their campuses. Opponents to the appeal argue that people have the constitutional right to bear arms for self-protection.
Kansas Collects $165 Million More in Taxes than Expected in January
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas is reporting that it collected $165 million more in taxes than expected in January, and its top tax official sees the surplus resulting from changes in federal tax laws. Revenue Secretary Sam Williams said Thursday that federal tax changes enacted late last year encouraged people to pay state and local tax bills before 2017 ended. The Department of Revenue reported that Kansas took in nearly $747 million in taxes last month. The state had expected tax collections of $582 million. The monthly surplus is more than 28 percent. It was the eighth consecutive month tax collections have exceeded expectations. Since the current fiscal year began July 1, the state has collected $3.9 billion in taxes. That is $249 million more than anticipated and a surplus of 6.7 percent.
Kansas Bill Would Lower State Sales Tax on Food
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas lawmakers are considering a proposed constitutional amendment that would lower the state sales tax on food and ingredients. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that the Senate tax committee held a hearing on the proposal Thursday. The amendment would lower the state sales tax rate from the current 6.5 percent down to 2 percent in 2020. The amendment wouldn't require cities and counties to lower local sales tax rates. State lawmakers raised the rate to 6.5 percent in 2015 to help address the state's continuing revenue shortfalls at that time. Democratic Sen. Tom Holland says that Kansas residents pay one of the highest tax rates on food of any jurisdiction in the country when state and local taxes are combined. The Kansas Department of Revenue is calculating the fiscal impact.
Bills Seek to Give Public More Say About Poultry Facilities
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Two bills have been introduced in the Kansas Legislature to give the public more say about proposed large-scale poultry processing facilities in their communities. The legislation announced Thursday comes in the wake of outrage last year over a proposed Tyson Foods poultry plant near Tonganoxie. The legislation would allow protest petitions and public votes in communities where people oppose such developments. One bill would authorize that process for approval of poultry slaughter operations. The other would govern large-scale feeding and breeding facilities. Kansas already has similar laws for swine operations and e dairy operations. But there is currently no provision for protest petitions and public votes to approve poultry facilities. The bills have been introduced by Republican Rep. Jim Karleskint of Tonganoxie and Democratic Sen. Tom Holland of Baldwin City.
21-to-Smoke Ordinance Stalled from Taking Effect in Topeka
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — An ordinance banning the sale of tobacco products to anyone younger than 21 has been stalled from taking effect in Topeka. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that Shawnee County District Court Judge Franklin Theis is weighing legal arguments after a hearing Thursday. The law increasing the minimum age to buy tobacco products was slated to take effect last month. But a business, Vape Bar and Puffs 'n' Stuff, sued, asking for a temporary injunction. Attorney R.E. "Tuck" Duncan says state lawmakers should be the ultimate authority on such laws. At least 17 cities or counties in Kansas have so-called "Tobacco 21" ordinances. Several state legislatures also have passed laws. Theis ordered attorneys on both sides to file additional briefs by next week, but didn't indicate when he would rule.
KU Medical Center Accused of Abusing Animals
KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — An animal rights organization is calling for withholding of federal funds and the firing of a research administrator at the University of Kansas Medical Group, alleging abuse of research animals. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that Stop Animal Exploitation Now says the abuse at the KU Medical Center in Kansas City, Kan., included a mouse being set on fire. Medical Center spokeswoman Natalie Lutz says the center is committed to ethical and responsible academic research involving animals and maintains a stringent oversight process. The animal rights group says that from May 2015 to March 2017, dozens of animals died at the center. The group alleges that abuse involved rabbits, rats, mice and a gerbil.
Kansas Hometown Helps Basketball Legend Jackie Stiles Fight Cancer
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (AP) — The tiny Kansas hometown of a legendary former women's basketball player who set college scoring records is raising money to help its favorite daughter fight a rare form of cancer. The Springfield News-Leader reports that the farming town of Claflin, Kansas, is helping raise money for Jackie Stiles as she prepares for surgery Friday to treat eye cancer. Students at Central Plains High School set up an online fundraiser Tuesday to help Stiles with some medical costs her insurance won't cover. The goal is $5,000. Stiles' father, Pat Stiles, says he's "surprised and humbled" that students who don't personally know his daughter would raise money. Jackie Stiles put Claflin on the map playing for Missouri State University and later in the WNBA. She currently coaches the university's women's basketball team.
2 Arrested in Death of Eudora Man Found in Burning House
LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Two women are charged with first-degree murder in the death of a 34-year-old Eudora man whose body was found inside a burning house near Lawrence. The Douglas County District Attorney said 38-year-old Tria Evans, of Lawrence, and 37-year-old Christina Towell, of Leavenworth, were charged Thursday. They are being held on $1 million bond. Joel Wales was found dead Nov. 3 in the home south of Lawrence. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that Evans is the mother of Wales' child, and the two had several past domestic disputes. Towell does not have a record in the Douglas County court. The sheriff's office said it would not release further information about the homicide while the investigation is ongoing.
Authorities Say Confrontation at Home Led to Shooting Death
ALMA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Bureau of Investigation says it is assisting the Wabaunsee County Sheriff's Office investigate a shooting death in Alma. Sheriff's officers responding to a domestic incident call at around 11:50 pm Thursday found a man suffering from gunshot wounds. He was transported to the local hospital where he later died. The KBI said in a news release Friday that the victim has since been identified as 36-year-old Chad Thomas-Buckbee of Alma. An autopsy is planned. The agency says preliminary information indicates people at the residence were involved in a confrontation that turned violent. It says there is no indication of any public threat as a result of the incident.
Facebook Live Video Lands KC Man in Federal Court and Jail
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A Kansas City felon accused of waving a gun around in a Facebook Live video faces a federal charge. Twenty-four-year-old Deleon Reed was charged Thursday with being a felon in possession of a firearm. No attorney is listed for him in online court records. A detective wrote in an affidavit that he used a video camera to record the Jan. 23 live broadcast while it played on a computer. The affidavit says the video shows Reed driving around with the gun and challenging people to try and shoot up his car. Police found two firearms in Reed's car when he was arrested the next day. Reed has prior convictions for possession of a controlled substance and motor vehicle robbery. If convicted, he could face up to 10 years in prison.
University of Missouri-Kansas City Offers Tuition Deal
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The University of Missouri's Kansas City campus is cutting tuition costs for more Kansas students and making it cheaper for students in seven other states. The Board of Curators said yes Thursday to offering in-state tuition rates to all Kansas students. It's an expansion of a program that had benefited students from 11 Kansas counties. The university also will allow residents of surrounding states to pay 150 percent of the in-state rate. The seven new states to benefit from the so-called Heartland Rate are South Dakota, Iowa, Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas, Oklahoma and Texas. Already receiving the discount are students in North Dakota, Nebraska, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan and Ohio. Full-time Kansas students save nearly $14,000 a year from the discount. The Heartland Rate saves students about $10,000 a year.
Ex-Topeka Car Dealer Can't Do Business in Kansas Anymore
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A former Topeka car dealer who didn't keep a promise to donate to a memorial fund for a slain Topeka police officer can no longer do business in the state. The Kansas attorney general's office said Thursday that Justin Bogina, of Tecumseh, and his Topeka business, Auto Acceptance Center Corp., also must reimburse more than $25,000 to consumers. Attorney General Derek Schmidt said shortly after Police Cpl. Jason Harwood was killed in the line of duty in September 2014, Bogina advertised that he would donate $100 per vehicle he sold during a specific time to the memorial fund. But he didn't track sales during the time period and didn't make a donation until an investigation began in April 2016. A lawsuit claimed Bogina also repeatedly violated consumer protection laws over several years.
Kansas City Council Passes "Ban the Box" Ordinance
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Kansas City is joining a growing number of communities that bar employers from asking job applicants to check a box on applications disclosing their criminal pasts. The Kansas City Star reports that the city council approved a so-called "ban the box" ordinance Thursday. More than 150 cities and counties have passed similar measures requiring that criminal history inquiries must be deferred until later in the hiring process. The purpose is to give ex-offenders a better shot at employment. Kansas City government adopted the policy for most city employees in 2013, while Missouri approved it for state hiring in 2016. Councilman Jermaine Reed says it's time for the private sector to follow suit. He sponsored the 2013 ordinance. He says many "continue to be stigmatized by old criminal records."
Landscaping Can Stay, Judge Rules After Costly Legal Fight
OLATHE, Kan. (AP) — A suburban Kansas City man whose legal battle with his homeowner's associations cost hundreds of thousands of dollars can keep his landscaping project but must pay a fine. A Johnson County judge ruled Wednesday that the Avignon HOA treated Jim Hildenbrand unfairly when it denied his application for a low accent wall that runs the length of his Olathe home. The Kansas City Star reports that the HOA described it as "over the top." The judge also ordered Hildenbrand to pay a $25,000 fine to the HOA for failing to fill out the proper application before it was installed in 2013. Hildenbrand says his legal bills surpassed $300,000. Documents posted on the HOA's site indicate it's spent more than $330,000 in legal fees since 2013. No other lawsuits are mentioned.
Remains of Kansas Soldier Killed in WWII Recovered
LARNED, Kan. (AP) — More than 74 years after his death, the remains of a Kansas Marine killed in World War II have been recovered. Jack Krieger of Larned is believed to have died on Nov. 20, 1943. The Great Bend Tribune reports that the Department of Defense's POW/MIA Accounting Agency announced Thursday that Krieger's remains have been accounted for. Krieger was part of a battalion fighting the Japanese on the small island of Betio of the Gilbert Islands. The Defense Department says about 1,000 Marines and sailors died and more than 2,000 were wounded during the battle. Krieger was 27. His remains were exhumed from the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Hawaii, where he was buried as an unknown. Burial services are pending.
Lawsuits over Herbicide Dicamba to Be Heard in St. Louis
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — A special panel of judges says 11 lawsuits filed in four states against the makers of the herbicide dicamba will be centralized in federal court in St. Louis. The U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation made the determination Thursday regarding farmers' lawsuits filed in Arkansas, Missouri, Kansas and Illinois. The lawsuits argue that the makers of dicamba are responsible for damage caused by the herbicide to their crops, especially soybeans. According to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette , attorneys for the companies that make dicamba opposed the centralization of the lawsuits but said that if it had to be done, St. Louis was their preferred location. Arkansas has banned dicamba use from April 16 through Oct. 31 after the state received nearly 1,000 complaints last year about the weed killer.
Body Found After Fire near Northeast Kansas Town of Fairview
FAIRVIEW, Kan. (AP) — Authorities say a body has been found after a fire in northeast Kansas. Brown County Sheriff John Merchant says the fire was reported early Thursday near the town of Fairview. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that departments from several communities battled the blaze for several hours. Merchant says the state fire marshal's office was contacted and is investigating the cause of the blaze. The name of the person who died wasn't immediately released.
High School Coach Dies in Fiery Crash in Central Kansas
HAVEN, Kan. (AP) — Authorities say an assistant high school basketball coach was killed in a fiery central Kansas crash. The Kansas Highway Patrol says 51-year-old David Chamberlain Jr., of Haven, died early Thursday when his car rear-ended a motor home on Interstate 135 in McPherson County. The Hutchinson News reports that his car went into a ditch and through a fence after the collision. The car came to rest in a field where it caught fire. The driver of the motor home wasn't hurt. Chamberlain coached at Haven High School, which was providing grief counselors for students.